Feb. 7, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois University's women's soccer program signed eight players on the first day of the 2007 National Letter of Intent signing period. The group of new Huskies includes five Illinois natives, two from Georgia and one from Michigan.
"I believe that all of our recruits share some common attributes - they understand what it means to work hard and they have the personality and character to fit into a team environment and make it even stronger," said head coach Marci Miller. "Not only are each of these young ladies talented soccer players, but they are good people and great student-athletes. I am excited to add them to the core of great players we currently have. I believe depth is key to winning championships."
Headlining the "Class of 2007" is defender Christen Schuler (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley), ranked as one of Illinois' top-20 recruits by the Chicago Sun-Times. The former member of the Illinois Olympic Development Team earned a pair of all-conference selections during her prep career. Defender Mo Smunt (St. Charles, Ill./East) also earned accolades by the Chicago Sun-Times as a third-team all-area selection during her junior season in 2006.
Midfielder/forward Becca Ford (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) is another recruit who was part of the Illinois Olympic Development Program. The local product was her team's top goal scorer and MVP while earning all-conference and all-sectional honors.
Rounding out the new Huskies who hail from the Land of Lincoln are forward Kaitlin Bujak (Palatine, Ill./Saint Viator), who helped her Eclipse club team to the 2005 Region 2 final, and midfielder/forward Annie Wyer (Geneva, Ill./Community), an all-conference, conference MVP, and all-sectional selection, who scored four goals in four games during the 2005 IHSA Tournament, the fifth-highest total in Class AA tournament history.
The Huskies lone goalkeeper in this year's recruiting class is Meaghan Bennett (Portage, Mich./Portage Central), a first-team all-state and Division I first-team selection by the Michigan High School Coaches Association in 2006. Bennett collected all-conference and all-district accolades while leading her team to a 23-1-1, a 10-0-0 league mark, and a state semifinal appearance.
NIU added a pair of defender/midfielders from Georgia in Nicki Dykes (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), who led her club team to the state championship as a junior, and Megan Harry (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton). Harry is a member of Georgia's Olympic Development Program and the North Atlanta Soccer Association.
Head Coach Marci Miller on the Incoming "Class of 2007"
On Meaghan Bennett - "Meghan Bennett is another hard-working individual who will add some depth to our goalkeeper position. She is athletic and can organize a back line very well. She is not afraid to compete and trains with boys to refine her skills. We are excited to have Meghan as depth in the goalkeeper position is crucial."
On Kaitlin Bujak - "Kaitlin Bujak has played for the National Championship club team at her age group, the Eclipse, and she understands the work-rate and training environment we are creating at NIU. She will be a great fit for this team and increase our diversity of attacking players."
On Nicki Dykes - "Nicki Dykes is very versatile and can play virtually any position. She is solid technically and does well at keeping possession. Given any role, I think she will excel as she has the work-rate and attitude to improve every day wherever we put her. I believe Nicki will adapt quickly to college soccer and raise the level of her game another notch once in the environment."
On Becca Ford - "I expect Becca Ford to come in and be an impact player for this team. Her fitness level is incredible as she can run all day long but her toughness both mentally and physically as well as her work rate are off the chart. Becca is solid one-on-one both offensively and defensively and I believe she will help contribute to our team's attack and pressure. "
On Megan Harry - "Megan Harry is a player that I have known since she was 15 and she will run through a brick wall for her team. She can play numerous roles for this team either on the offensive end as a post-up forward or as a ball winning defender. She is great in the air and extremely competitive. She has good leadership qualities and a strong will to win."
On Christen Schuler - "Christen Schuler plays with calm under pressure that is impressive for her age. As we can continue to help her become physically stronger I believe she could be an excellent sweeper/center back for this team and help increase the depth of our back line. She talks and leads well out of the back, is technically sound, athletic and good in the air. Rated as one of the top recruits in Illinois by the Chicago Sun-Times, NIU is happy to have her part of our program."
On Mo Smunt - "I believe Mo Smunt is that special player that every team needs. She has the heart and fight of a lion, and can defend extremely well, but she also has the technical ability to build and attack out of the back. For her size she is also very strong in the air and tough on the tackle. Mo has the potential to be one of the best players in the MAC conference."
On Annie Wyer - "Although Annie Wyer is coming off an ACL injury I think she will be a great asset to our team. She fits into our system of play perfectly as she is scrappy, feisty and can put pressure on a back line with her quickness. She has a knack for getting behind a back line and making things happen. "